Update #6 (February 16)
by Kiera Mason and Brittany Holbrook
This week has been a good one for us! We’ve seen some cool surgeries, met some amazing people, and treated some interesting cases here at Malamulo!
One particular patient of interest was a young deaf man—who’s sodium levels were far beyond normal physiological range and he weighed approximately 45 lbs—all at the ripe old age of 19 years! Yes, you read that right. We saw quite a few intriguing cases you wouldn’t normally see in the U.S., so this trip has been an incredible experience for all of us.
There was a cute little market behind the hospital that we all came to enjoy visiting after clinicals and classes. There we found a range of comfort foods similar to American snacks ranging from Basto’s treasured energy drinks to Lays potato chips for a good many of us to enjoy. There was also a gentleman who would make French fries (called chips here) on the spot.
Every day we experienced something new about Malawian culture, including how public transportation and fair bartering work. We also learned many applicable skills in our Travel and Tropical Medicine class including water purification, how to prepare food properly, and how to treat tropical diseases. Luckily, none of us have gotten traveler’s diarrhea yet—fingers crossed for the rest of the trip.
This week concluded our clinical rotations at Malamulo Adventist Hospital. Next up we will be climbing Mt. Mulanje, the highest mountain in Malawi!
We would like to thank everyone for all of the prayers and love throughout this past month! That’s it for now!
Update #5 (February 9)
by Lauren Schields and Adrianna Deuhrssen
We’ve survived our first three weeks here in Africa and have spent the last seven days at the Adventist hospital here in Malamulo.
Contrary to popular opinion, we’ve failed to encounter too many aggressive animals here and the spiders keep their distance. There are exceptions to this, including our transient animal resident Patty, our resident spider Norman and the chickens.
How’s the weather? Imagine Florida on steroids: ten times the summer heat, rain, humidity and mosquitoes. That aside, it’s been beautiful here and it beats the weather back in Lincoln any day.
Our living arrangements here have come with their own entertaining qualities. We found out shortly after arriving that the water shuts off at night—much to the dismay of night-going toilet dwellers. We’ve decided that our toilet is haunted, given the sounds it makes at 5:00 a.m. when the water comes back on.
Basto has had his fair share of problems this week, between having his room flooded and getting locked in multiple times.
Our time at the hospital has been a great learning experience. We’ve come to see how medicine works in resource-limited settings, from finding alternative medications for scarce drugs to improvising a neonatal CPAP device. One pediatrician fashioned a spacer for albuterol treatment out of a saline bottle, which was particularly impressive. Surgeries we’ve observed have included an emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, a supracondylar fracture repair, and prostatectomies. Being assigned to the pediatric department is no walk in the park, as it often comes with projectile urination and nematode infested emesis. Despite our long days at the hospital, a day is never complete without an evening card game of Bang, courtesy of Boss [Sirisatit].
Highlights from the week include:
- Learning hands-on skills, such as assisting with a spinal block, cervical examination, and delivering of a baby.
- Watching a neonatal patient improve over the week.
- Losing underwear after laundry day.
- Late-night card games and movies.
- Buying 16 avocados at a time from local vendors (guacamole followed shortly after).
- Visiting the traveling market and purchasing chitengas (local fabric) and a 10 ft stalk of sugarcane.
- Entertaining the locals with our daily workouts (a local woman joined us in squats while she hung laundry).
That’s all for now. Tune in next week for more of our intrepid adventures here in Africa.
Update #4 (February 5)
by Katie Perez
This week we accomplished a semester class worth of book-work and lectures within one week’s time. Yay for Global Health! We will now spend the next two weeks doing hospital rotations to put into practice what we learned.
We experienced power outages, torrential rains, leaky ceilings, closed immigration offices, and long nights of card games and fun! Through it all, our little family has maintained high spirits as we journey on to our next station at Malamulo Adventist Hospital for the next two weeks.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. We can feel it from miles away.
Update #3 (January 26)—Arrival
By Lydia Gentry
Nonse (Hello Everyone)!
This past week and a half 15 International Rescue and Relief students and staff began their overseas semester in the Country of Malawi. Despite a two-day delay in Chicago, the group arrived in the Blantyre on January 18.
Week 1 focused on a Cultural Integration class each morning with local pastor Denis Matekenya. Every day after learning Chichewa vocabulary, Malawian culture and practices, and the country’s history, the students were broken into groups and given assignments to complete in town. These tasks require the students to find public transportation, purchase items in the market, locate historical landmarks and communicate with local people, all in attempts to get them more accustomed to their surroundings and resources. At the end of the day, the students shared their experiences with one another as they discovered pro tips for navigating their new surroundings.
Over their first weekend, the students spent time hiking in Zomba and Blantyre, discovering gorgeous views, swimming in waterfalls, and enjoying some free time before next week’s Global Health course.
While there have been some big adjustments so far—a major time change, heavy rainfall, power outages, water outages, and mosquito attacks, the group considers week one to be a success and is excited to see what is in store for the future.
Update #2 (January 20)—Arrival
by Rick Young, director of the Union College IRR program
The team made it to Malawi after a two-day layover in Chicago (paid by United Airlines). Angie Allen and Kiera Mason sent a message yesterday: “Today the group explored Blantyre, Malawi with our awesome chef/guide, Mack! He showed us around the city, helped students buy sim cards, and has kept us well fed (take a look at the meal)! In the evenings, we’ve been playing card games while we still have time; we haven’t been assigned any homework yet! That ends tonight, but we’re excited all around!”
This week they have a class in cultural integration where they get to learn the history of Malawi, experience the food and learn the language. This helps them appreciate and understand the many people they will work with for the rest of the trip.
Update #1 (January 15)—Departure
Thirteen international rescue and relief seniors departed for Malawi, Africa, this week to begin a semester of courses in community development and global health. Led by IRR faculty Kalie and Andrew Saunders, the group will spend time in several different locations around the country and help operate medical clinics for remote areas that receive very little medical care. The team will also staff a medical clinic for two weeks in a United Nations operated refugee camp housing 65,000 displaced people.
The overseas semester is a regular part of the international rescue and relief curriculum, which prepares students for careers in medicine, dentistry, public safety, emergency management and community development. This is the first trip to Africa; previous groups have worked in South and Central America.
Please pray for these students as they learn new skills and serve the people of Malawi. We will add regular updates and photos from the team to this story.
The team experienced some flight problems—the Lincoln flight was delayed for mechanical issues and they missed a connection in Chicago to Addis Abba. But they eventually made it.